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The Matres were often denominated Augustæ, Dominæ, and Heræ. As "hera" signifies the mistress of a household, the expression Matres Domesticæ is explained, and one is tempted to look for their origin in a matriarchal state of society like that of the ancient Chaldæans. They have been found clothed with the dogskin, which was a frequent covering of the Lares; and, like the Lares, they were placed in recesses that may have been a reminiscence of the grotto. Home and country were dearly prized by the Romans. The last words of Coriolanus were, "Et vos, O Dii Penates, et Lares Patrii, Geniique Loci Præsides, valete!"

Tacitus observes* that the Germans revered as goddesses a number of prophetic women, fatidicæ feminæ; and it has been suggested that they were the Dea Matres. There is no warrant for the supposition.

A "mother" is that which brings forth, whether animate or inanimate. Mr. Hewitt, in speaking of the Dravidians, tells ust that the divine mother Earth was once the centre of a triad of which Varuna, the heaven, and Mitra, the moon, were the other members. Sacrifice was offered to the "Three Mothers." This oblation, of great antiquity, was called Rudra Triambakah. Human, equine, bovine, ovine, and caprarian sacrifices were made to them, and the blood was poured into the earth for the purpose of fertilising it.

The German tribes worshipped a feminine divinity, Terra Mater, t on whose favour their prosperity depended. The Greeks and Latins called her Gaia and Tellus. Thor was born of Fjörgyn, or Mother Earth.

* Hist., iv. 61.

+ R. Asiatic Jour., 1890, p. 350.

Tac. Germ., xl.

The Matres Deum were adored by sacrifices that indicate that they, too, were once goddesses of locality, Deaì xóviai. Gaia received offerings of black sheep; Demeter of swine, honey, and fruits. It is expressly stated that "ruby wine was unlawful for her,"* and though libations of wine were made for the Bona Dea it was called milk, and the vessel containing it mellarium. Their sedile attitude must not be forgotten. Gaia and Rhea, the Magna Mater, and Demeter usually sat enthroned, as did in early days Athene or Minerva herself. For Strabo points out that the most ancient statues of Minerva, as those at Phocæ, Massalia, Rome, and Chios, are found in that posture,† whilst Homer directs a robe, as a placatory offering, to be placed on her knees.1

Not much is known of the ceremonial worship of the Dex Matres. On an altar at Magnæ, inscribed MATRIB, the sculptured sacerdotal person is a woman; and on the altar to the Matronæ already mentioned those who are officiating may well be women too.

A number of articles pertaining to the worship of the Deæ Matres were found in the county of Durham, and comprise a large silver patera, a small silver dish, two silver incense spoons, five gold finger rings, two gold chains with pendants, a gold bracelet, a pair of fibulæ, a mirror, and two hundred and eighty denarii with two brass coins of Antoninus Pius. On the handle of the patera is inscribed MATR - FAB – DVBIT (fig. 12).

The mirror and the personal adornments assuredly belong to women, and it would seem to women engaged in sacerdotal functions. One of the rings is in the shape.

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Another ring has 13), of which the

of a coiled serpent with two heads. this legend MATRUM COVCVOAE (fig. second word has eluded interpretation. The letters that compose it are not cut but are separately stamped. c may take the place of Q, as in acua for aqua, and in that case one stamp would suffice for two letters. If it be supposed that the artificer intended to strike the word COCVAE, but inadvertently transposed o and v, and that he afterwards attempted to correct his error by stamping, in each case, the right letter over the wrong one, the result would be the word in question. This supposition certainly supplies a meaning, "The Mothers' cook," however doubtful it may appear.

The complete word MATRUM on the ring makes it probable that the contraction MATR on the handle of the patera has the same significance, and that the sentence should be thus enlarged, Matrum Fabiae Dubitatae, a priestess of the Mothers.

In the long story now drawing to a close it is not difficult to discern a line of evolution. A confused multitude of dwarfs and elves and nymphs, that vaguely accounted for the phenomena of nature, were resolved into mysterious peoples, who were the forerunners of historical nations, and whose names were conveniently assumed by early priesthoods.

The nymphs of the prime, that danced in woods and disported in streams, were gradually defined in number, becoming pentads and triads, and clothing restricted their robeless freedom. When their maternal function had predominated their swift movement ceased, their secluded grotto was abandoned, and fully draped they were placed on thrones, three together, as the Mothers of Towns and Tribes; until, at last, an All-mother was recognised and adored.

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